Significant progress has been made in understanding the biology and behavior of breast cancer, and there have been many treatment advances over the years. Breast cancer is not one disease – there are multiple types, and every case is different. The number of treatment options can be confusing and overwhelming for many newly diagnosed patients.
After an initial diagnosis, it is important to understand that in many cases, YOU HAVE TIME. Time to gather information, which may include additional imaging studies or other testing. Time to get more than one opinion. Time to talk with other patients.. And the time to carefully consider all of the options. When newly diagnosed with breast cancer you can expect to “inherit” a team – that team will be made up of a breast surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist (if radiation is necessary). Other important members of the team may include a nurse navigator, physical therapist, genetic counselor, social worker, spiritual care provider, and psychologist or therapist. In addition, resources for diet, nutrition and lifestyle counseling may be recommended.
One size most certainly does NOT fit all in regards to breast cancer treatment recommendations. Tumor size, presence of spread to the lymph nodes or other areas of the body, and tumor biology are essential pieces of information about YOUR specific breast cancer. Obtain these details before attempting to review the overwhelming amount of information that is available. Once you have a better understanding of your specific situation, focused research may be helpful.
The first few days and weeks following a cancer diagnosis are extremely difficult, but taking the time you need to make clear, informed decisions is important. Seek out a treatment team that will provide relevant information and that will take the time to explain all your options.
Updated 15 June 2019